05. March 2015 · Write a comment · Categories: Adult Books, Fantasy, Fiction, Leslie

Sojourn by R.A. Salvatore, 309 pages, read by Leslie, on 02/16/2015

Far above the merciless Underdark, Drizzt Do’Urden fights to survive the elements of Toril’s harsh surface. The drow begins a sojourn through a world entirely unlike his own–even as he evades the dark elves of his past.

In this 3rd and final book of the trilogy, Drizzt leaves the Underdark for a life on the surface, or so he hopes.  At first, he again lives the life of a hermit and although the sun makes it difficult for him, he is determined to find his place in this world.  He eventually meets a blind Ranger, who befriends and teaches him what he needs to know about his new world.  Drizzt comes to the conclusion, with some help, that not all deities are bad, and that living the life of a Ranger is what he is meant to do.  Although tragedy dogs him through the first part of the book, he learns his way and finds the place he is meant to be.

A very good conclusion to the trilogy, in my opinion.  While it does leave open the chance for his character to appear in other Forgotten Realm books, it was finished in a satisfactory manner.  I thoroughly enjoyed the whole series and recommend it to anyone.

05. March 2015 · Write a comment · Categories: Children's Books, Fantasy, Fiction, Lisa

Bigger Than a Bread Box by Laurel Snyder, 223 pages, read by Lisa, on 03/04/2015

A magical breadbox that delivers whatever you wish for—as long as it fits inside? It’s too good to be true! Twelve-year-old Rebecca is struggling with her parents’ separation, as well as a sudden move to her Gran’s house in another state. For a while, the magic bread box, discovered in the attic, makes life away from home a little easier. Then suddenly it starts to make things much, much more difficult, and Rebecca is forced to decide not just where, but who she really wants to be. Laurel Snyder’s most thought-provoking book yet.

Description from Goodreads.com.

05. March 2015 · Write a comment · Categories: Adult Books, Fantasy, Fiction, Leslie

Exile by R.A. Salvatore, 343 pages, read by Leslie, on 02/11/2015

 “As I became a creature of the empty tunnels, survival became easier and more difficult all at once. I gained in the physical skills and experience necessary to live on. I could defeat almost anything that wandered into my chosen domain. It did not take me long, however, to discover one nemesis that I could neither defeat nor flee. It followed me wherever I went-indeed, the farther I ran, the more it closed in around me. My enemy was solitude, the interminable, incessant silence of hushed corridors.”

In this second book of the trilogy, Drizzt decides that his only way to escape his family and the dark elves way of life, is to live by himself in the depths of his underworld.  He is afraid to interact with any others he meets, until he comes to the realization that he is slowly becoming that which he hoped to avoid.  He decides that he needs to reverse this by hoping that if he goes to the dwarven city and living with whatever fate they decide for him.  He had saved the life of one of them and wants desparately to find out if he is the good person he wants to be.  After living with them for a time, he and his companions learn that his mother has sent someone after him, to try and appease their goddess. Drizzt then decides that he needs to set out again, hoping to outrun his heritage and his mother’s determination.

I enjoyed this book, as much as the first, and it was much faster to read, maybe because the tempo of the book was not as much set up and explanation as it was actual action.  You get to really feel for Drizzt and the fate of his life.  It’s easy to see parallels in real life, to compare what people you know have overcome to be the people they want.  A very good read if you enjoy fantasy settings.

 

05. March 2015 · Write a comment · Categories: Adult Books, Fantasy, Fiction, Kira, Mystery · Tags:

The Mist-torn Witches by Barb Hendee, 326 pages, read by Kira, on 03/02/2015

mist tornTwo sisters living in a small village are barely hanging on.  The elder Celine, pretends to be a seer like her mother (though her mother was a real seer).  The prince of the realm bribes Celine to tell a rich girl that marrying him will be a good choice.  As Celine pretends to read for the rich girl, she has her first real vision, in which the girl is brutally murdered, if she marries the prince.  Will the sisters survive the wrath of the evil prince?  so begins the tale.  This book was much more enjoyable than the 2nd in the series (which I read beforehand).  
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04. March 2015 · 1 comment · Categories: Adult Books, Fantasy, Fiction, Mariah

Haunted by Kelley Armstrong, 495 pages, read by Mariah, on 03/02/2015

Eve Levine was a witch who practiced black magic when she was alive. Her reputation proceeded her throughout the supernatural world. When she died attempting to escape a prison for supernaturals, Eve left behind a teenage daughter, Savannah. Most of her time since death has been spent trying to continue to watch over her daughter, though they live in separate worlds. Now, however, the Fates have a different, and far more dangerous, task for her. Eve has been asked to track down and help capture a demonic creature known as a Nix. As the tale progresses, it turns out that Eve was not quite the dark magic practitioner she had been painted by her peers. While willing to cross a lot of lines and stand up for herself among the magical crowd, Eve has a strong moral code. During her job, Eve mends hurt feelings and regains lost trusts that occurred while she was alive. She comes to terms with her new place in the universe and, by the end of her quest, Eve realizes she can let go of the past. The book ends with Eve starting an exciting new future with a job that many might consider the polar opposite of her earthly work. Eve Levine now guards the earth as an angel.

This is the fifth book in Kelley Armstrong’s Women of the Otherworld series. It takes a darker turn than her previous books because of the characteristics of the Nix that Eve is hunting. While Armstrong has always been happy to explore the mayhem that allowing a werewolf or sorcerer to revel in their baser instincts can cause, Haunted focuses on a serial killer. Darker and much more intricate, Armstrong arranges a plot line that brings more mystery and suspense into her fantasy world.

Neil Gaiman is possibly to best writer of today’s literature.  Everything he writes is magic.  Neil writes another beauty in Trigger Warning a group of short stories to amaze and wonder about.  It is worth reading.

 

25. February 2015 · Write a comment · Categories: Adult Books, Fairy Tales and Folklore, Fantasy, Fiction, Kira, Paranormal · Tags:

Black Wings by Christina Henry, 295 pages, read by Kira, on 02/24/2015

Madeline Black is an agent of Dblack wingseath, guiding souls to the door of the afterlife.  Shortly after she rents out the lower rooms in her house, to hot-looking Gabriel Angeloscuro, demons wanting to kill her start showing up near her house, including her evil half-brother Antares.  The author does some interesting world-building, building a genealogy of residents of heaven, but mostly hell.  I picked up this title on accidB0351_BlackWings_coverent, thinking it was another by Barb Hendee – both have call # HEN.  Enjoyable enough of a read, but I doubt I’ll continue the series.fantasy-and-gothic-pictures-girl-with-black-wings-and-blue-dress

24. February 2015 · Write a comment · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, Fairy Tales and Folklore, Fantasy, Fiction

The Castle Behind Thorns by Merrie Haskell, 332 pages, read by Angie, on 02/23/2015

Sand has a fight with his father so he runs away and makes an offering at a shrine. The next thing he knows he is waking up in the sundered castle. Thirty years ago something happened at the castle that caused everything from the walls to the last apple to split. The castle was then surrounded by an impenetrable wall of thorns. Sand has no idea how he got in the castle, but once there he decides to use his skills as a blacksmith to start fixing things. He fixes everything from doors to buckets to spoons. He even puts things back to rights in the crypt beneath the chapel. Sand spends weeks alone in the castle working and trying to find enough food to get by. Then a girl appears; she is the same girl he put to rights in the crypt. Seems that Perrotte has been mended as well. She was once the daughter of the castle before she was murdered by her stepmother. Once Perrotte and Sand get past their surprise at the new circumstances, Perrotte helps Sand with the mending of the castle. They notice that the more they mend the lower the wall of thorns becomes. They are determined to find a way out of the castle and back to their lives.

This is a magical fairy tale with a twist. I really enjoyed Sand and Perrotte and how their relationship develops. Perrotte goes from being a snobby lady who looks down on humble Sand, to a warm human being who considers Sand her best friend and protector. I liked the discovery of Sand’s magic and why it came to be. I also enjoyed Perrotte’s tragic story of her past and how she came back to life. The one thing I thought was rushed was the ending though. We spend the majority of the book in the castle with Sand and Perrotte as they are working together and rebuilding the castle. Then in the last few chapters Perrotte’s stepmother comes with her army; then a peace is established; then they leave the castle. It is all very hurried and didn’t seem to fit the pace of the rest of the book. But as this is a fairy tale everyone lives happily ever after and all is well.

24. February 2015 · Write a comment · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, Fantasy, Fiction

Witherwood Reform School by Obert Skye, Keith Thompson (Illustrations), 240 pages, read by Angie, on 02/23/2015

Tobias and Charlotte play one too many tricks on their nanny which causes their father to have to take action. He dumps them in front of Witherwood Reform School and leaves them. Witherwood is not like other schools. They seem to already know who Tobias and Charlotte are and there are many mysteries surrounding the school including its staff and students. It was built on top a mesa that was created by a meteor impact. The school has dangerous guardians on the grounds who attack intruders. The head of the school Mr. Withers has a hypnotic voice that causes the students to accept their place at the school with joy and contentment. Tobias and Charlotte want nothing more than to leave the evil school, but are soon under its spell like the other students.

This is a quirky, quirky book. Tobias and Charlotte seem like normal kids but they find themselves in anything but normal situations. Everything just keeps getting stranger and stranger the more you read of this book. This is the beginning of a series and the book reads more like a set up for that series than a series opener. There is no resolution of any kind at the end of the book and the reader is left with way more questions about what is going on then they like. Witherwood is bizarre to say the least and we don’t find out why or what purpose it is serving. I think my enjoyment of the book dipped a lot when I realized there was no good ending. The kids are in much the same position they were at the beginning of the book. I wanted more answers and don’t like the fact that I will have to wait until the next book to get them. Not sure I am interested enough to wait however.

I received this book from Netgalley.

20. February 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Children's Books, Fantasy, Fiction, Kira · Tags:

Dragon Rule: Book Five of the Age of Fire by E.E. Knight, 368 pages, read by Kira, on 02/17/2015

Dragon-Rule-E-E-Knight-Paperback13-lgeThis book in the series weaves the three sibling dragons more closely together.  Auron accepts a “protectorate” within Naff’s kingdom.  Wistala acts as queen consort, since Nilrasha lost her wings (in battle in the previous book).  There is far more politics in this book than in the others (which I personally do not enjoy).  Plus ome of the political machinations left me
grousing for example “come on, its obvious who tried to assassinate you!!”  The ending is a little bleaker than other volumes – to be fair, this title has been described as a bridge book.

The best part of the book was the minor twist at the very end of the book.


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19. February 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, Fantasy, Fiction, Historical Fiction

How to Catch a Bogle by Catherine Jinks, Sarah Watts (Illustrations), 320 pages, read by Angie, on 02/18/2015

Birdie is the bogler’s apprentice. She helps Alfred the bogler by luring bogles out into the open with her singing and then Alfred kills them. Bogles are monsters who like to eat children so it takes a child to lure them out. Alfred and Birdie help all kinds of people throughout Victorian London. Birdie loves what she does even if she is sometimes afraid. Alfred and Birdie don’t have a lot but they have a room and food and each other. One day they are hired by Mrs. Eames who wants to learn more about bogles. She is a scholar and is appalled that Alfred puts Birdie’s life in danger. She keeps sticking her nose in and offering all kinds of suggestions on their work. Birdie and Alfred don’t really appreciate her help until they discover Dr. Morton. Dr. Morton wants to summon bogles and gain control over them. He has been sacrificing children to obtain his demon bogle. When our heroes interfere in his plans he comes after them. Birdie, Alfred, Mrs. Eames and their friends must work together to stop the evil Dr. Morton.

I really enjoyed this book, but I am not sure I will read the rest of the series. I liked the uniqueness of the story and the characters. Birdie and Alfred were fantastic. Victorian London is sometimes a hard sell with young readers and there is a bit of vocabulary in this book that could be challenging to that age group. However, if they stick with it I think they will enjoy it.

18. February 2015 · 2 comments · Categories: Adult Books, Angie, Fantasy, Fiction, Paranormal

Vision in Silver by Anne Bishop, 416 pages, read by Angie, on 02/13/2015

The cassandra sangue have been freed from the men who controlled them. They have been sent to live among the Inuits and the Simple Life Folk, but they are not adjusting as well as Meg has adjusted to life in the Courtyard. The Humans First and Last movement is still gaining support and causing even more trouble for the Others and the humans who work with and support them. Meg is trying to control her urge to cut and to find a way to help the other blood prophets survive on their own. Simon and the Others in the Courtyard are trying to find a way to protect their human pack and to put a stop to the machinations of the HFL.

I love this series. I think Anne Bishop is a master storyteller that just gets better the more she writes about her characters. The world of the Others is fantastic and unique and comes to the forefront in this book. We learn more about the Others outside of the Courtyards and just how much power they actually yield. The humans don’t seem to realize that they are are not the first to rebel against the rule of the Others and they will not be the last. To the Others in the Wild Country they are just insignificant creatures to be crushed when they become a nuisance. The only thing I don’t like about this series is waiting until the next book comes out.

I received a copy of this book through Netgalley.

12. February 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, Fairy Tales and Folklore, Fantasy, Fiction, Graphic Novel, Steam-punk

Return of the Dapper Men by Jim McCann, Janet K. Lee (Illustrations), 128 pages, read by Angie, on 02/11/2015

Time has stopped in Anorev. Everyone is either a robot or a child; there are no adults. There is no night or bedtime or chores or anything one would expect. Then 312 Dapper Men descend from the sky. They are here to set things right and to restart time. One of the Dapper Men enlists the help of a boy named Ayden and a robot girl named Zoe. They need to do something with the robot angel in the harbor in order to make things they way they should be. I actually wanted more from this story than I got. There isn’t a lot of explanation as to why time stopped, what happened to the adults, who the Dapper Men are, etc. The story itself is pretty sparse. The artwork is gorgeous however. It brings life to the story where the words do not. This is an interesting steampunk fairy tale fantasy but just needed a bit more.

12. February 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Fantasy, Fiction, Teen Books

The Story of Owen by E.K. Johnston, 312 pages, read by Angie, on 02/11/2015

Owen Thorskard comes from a long line of dragon slayers dating back to the Vikings. His aunt Lottie is one of the most famous dragon slayers of modern times. After Lottie is hurt battling a dragon the family moves to the rural Canadian town of Trondheim, which is thrilled to get its very own family of dragon slayers. Owen’s father, Aodhan, takes on the duties of protecting the area while Lottie and her wife Hannah train Owen. Siobhan McQuaid meets Owen his first day of school when they are both late for English. She is a musician and is soon asked to become Owen’s bard. Turns out dragon slayers used to always have a bard to tell the tales of their heroics. But modern dragon slayers are all corporate or military and the charm of the profession is no more. Lottie and Aodhan want to bring back the traditional role of dragon slayers and they want to start with Owen. Siobhan and Owen train together and Siobhan learns more than how to fight. Turns out the dragons are moving into the area in larger and larger numbers and the fear is a new hatching ground has been established. They have to find a way to stop the dragons before their area becomes just another Michigan.

I loved this book! I had never heard of it until it became one of the sixteen contenders for School Library Journal’s Battle of the Books. I am so glad I was introduced to it. It is such a fun story. It is an alternative history where dragons do exist and they feed on carbon. So as the world became more and more industrialized more and more dragons appeared. I loved all the little details we learned about the world like the fact that Michigan had to be abandoned because the auto industry drew so much dragon attention it was overrun or like the fact that Queen Victoria was the only non-dragon slayer to be inducted into the Order of St. George for moving a hatching ground and enabling travel between England and Scotland. There were lots of little things like that that made the story even more charming. But the true star of this book was Siobhan. She narrates The Story of Owen in such a charming and humorous way. Through her we learn more about the world, the history of dragons, music and dragon slaying. I also really loved that there were no romantic feelings between Owen and Siobhan. They are friends and partners and that is it. It made for a nice change of pace to other teen books. I am definitely putting this series on my to-read list.

12. February 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Award Winner, Children's Books, Dystopia, Eric, Fantasy, Fiction

The Unwanteds by Lisa McMann, 390 pages, read by Eric, on 02/07/2015

In the walled, dystopian city-state of Quill, each year brings the Purge, when children turning thirteen are sorted into two groups. The Wanteds are allowed to stay in Quill, and continue training at the university. The Unwanteds, those displaying any sort of artistic creativity, are taken from Quill to the Lake of Boiling Oil, as a death sentence for their transgressions. When Alex Stowe is taken with other Unwanteds to their fate, they instead discover their salvation- the Lake of Boiling Oil is a front for Artime, a magic refuge and school, where the artistic talents of the Unwanteds become spells capable of amazing things, including the inevitable defense of Artime when the High Priest Justine of Quill discovers the ruse.

At first, the similarities to Harry Potter were distracting, and I found some of the magical artistic powers and creatures to be a bit silly. As the story progressed, though, I was drawn in a little more with each chapter. By the end, I was enjoying it all, and wanting to continue to the next book. I just needed to keep the intended audience in mind, and let fantasy be wild. This Mark Twain Award winner is a great beginning for a creative series.

By the time this book even starts, Kit has had an interesting life. As an orphan, he was picked up by a traveling circus and was known for his show riding before his age hit the double digits. Times changed though and Kit gave up the circus circuit for a more stable life as a servant to a nobleman. Life is uneventful until one night, when his master comes back to the house late at night, bleeding out from bullet wounds. As it turns out, the kind man that Kit thought was a relatively normal fellow is actually one of the most notorious highwayman in the country. In an attempt to go and seek help, Kit dons the clothes his master, Whistling Jack, grabs his French Bulldog, Demon and flees on his horse, Midnight. Jack instructed Kit to go and find a witch in the woods right before scrawling out an indecipherable will. After a daring escape that nearly gets Kit killed, he manages to stumble upon the very woman he was supposed to find. The witch informs him that he must now finish his master’s quest, which involves a number of fantastical beings whose existence was previously unknown to Kit. Kit tries to refuse, but since not completely the quest will end in his death, Kit has no real choice to but to comply. The quest? To rescue a fairy princess who is betrothed to the King of England. Finding the princess is easy. Getting her to cooperate is another matter altogether. Dodging both human and fairy enemies, Kit and Princess Morgana have little more than their wits to rely on as they seek safe passage to neutral territory.
This swashbuckling adventure story is a little bit slow to start with, but picks up steam as the main characters reveal themselves. The plot is very involved and the pacing is a bit quirky. Real historical details add a realistic edge to an otherwise whimsical tale. The occasional footnote provides clarifications primarily of the historical nature. Throughout are illustrations of various scenes and characters. The timing of the illustrations can be disruptive from time to time, but they’re a nice overall addition. There’s a lot of clever wordplay, though some of the vernacular may confuse younger readers. Fans of fantasy or historical adventure won’t be disappointed.

05. February 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Fantasy, Fiction, Kira · Tags:

Witches in Red: A Novel of the Mist-Torn Witches by Barb Hendee, 325 pages, read by Kira, on 02/05/2015

73c9e61f40e8ecb33746dd3ae3504852  Sisters Celine and Amelie are asked by their patron Prince to uncover why men in a remote silver mining town keep turning into werewolves.  Both sisters are seers, Celine can see the future, and Amelie can see the past.werewolf-werewolves-24033227-530-496  I couldn’t put the book down, it was fast paced and intriguing.  I did manage to figure out who was the bad “guy”.  I was disappointed that Amelie needed to be rescued.  I would like to read the first book in the series.

05. February 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Brian, Fantasy, Fiction, Teen Books · Tags:

Vampire Kisses by Ellen Schreiber, 196 pages, read by Brian, on 02/05/2015

vampireRaven, a 16 year old girl, who lives in Dullsville, maybe the most boring place on earth.  Until a new family moves into a creepy old mansion.  The family never comes out of the mansion and creepy butler does all the shopping.  Raven is a dedicated goth and the fact the people of the town jokingly calls this new family vampires, peaks her interest even more.  After seeing the son, Alexander, out a night, she instantly falls in love.  Raven, really wants a vampire kiss and will do anything to find out if this is a family of vamps.

 

04. February 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Fantasy, Fiction, Leslie

Homeland by R.A. Salvatore, 343 pages, read by Leslie, on 01/25/2015

In exotic Menzoberranzan, the vast city of the drow is home to Icewind Dale prince Drizzt Do’Urden, who grows to maturity in the vile world of his dark elf kin. Possessing honor beyond the scope of his unprincipled society, can he live in world that rejects integrity?

As the first in a trilogy, the book was a very long read, but the story didn’t really drag on and on.  Drizzt is born into a matriarchal society where the women worship Lolth, the Spider Queen.  To get ahead in society, houses plot against each other, the women become priestesses to Lolth and the men are considered drow and unimportant.  Drizzt is born to be sacrificed to Lolth to gain favor for their house and is saved only because the second son murders the first son just as he is born.  He is raised and trained to become a weapons master and becomes one of the best in Menzoberranzan.  Although he doesn’t become aware of it until he is grown, his father is the current weapons master and trains him to be better than he is.  His father also imparts to him a sense of right and wrong, something that doesn’t happen in their world.  When his father sacrifices himself to Lolth to save Drizzt, Drizzt sets off to live alone in the Underworld in order to escape living in a society he hates.

I really did enjoy reading this book, but unless you are a fan of fantasy and the Forgotten Realms books, it may not be for you.

04. February 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Fantasy, Fiction, Kristy, Paranormal, Romance, Teen Books

The Young Elites by Marie Lu, 355 pages, read by Kristy, on 01/29/2015

TheYoungElites.jpgAfter the blood fever, an often deadly sickness, spreads through the land, many infected died a painful death. The ones who don’t die are left with peculiar markings. Some of the survivors develop magical powers, including the protagonist of the novel, Adelina Amouteru.  When Adelina escapes from her cruel father, she finds herself in the midst of the Young Elites, a group of magical youth who seek to take the throne.

The Young Elites is a dark, sexy young adult novel that never has a dull moment. I loved watching Adelina develop her dark powers and her relationship with Enzo (the leader of the young elites).